I couldn’t believe what I’d just done. After today, I was going to need to have a serious talk with myself. Whenever I was with Niall, something always seemed to end up different than I expected. This was… Well, this was almost the complete opposite of what I’d pictured going on.
He was obviously surprised—who wouldn’t be? But it only lasted a moment. His body transitioned from rigid to relaxed in an instant. I learned fast that Niall was much better at things like this than I, because his hands immediately found my waist and his fingers curled around the slack in my dress. I felt awkward, not knowing where to move my own hands. I settled for resting them just above his forearm, fiddling with the end of his polo’s sleeves. He began to lead the kiss, our noses brushing softly. I felt Niall’s eyelashes against the brim of my nose and I gradually leaned back against my car.
I became very aware of how uncomfortable I was as one of Niall’s hands moved from my waist to my neck, just below my cheek. My heart was hammering in my ears and my insides were twisted into painful knots. I was scared—but this was a different scared than I’d ever been with Niall. I felt exposed and needy, throwing myself at him like I’d just done. It was embarrassing.
I felt myself pull away quickly, my face burning with newfound shame in my feelings for Niall. Looking away quickly to avoid his eyes, I tried to make distance between him and the car so I could open the door. I could tell Niall was confused, but I wasn’t about to stick around to see his confusion turn to frustration. My hand found the door handle and I tugged it open.
“Samm,” Niall said. I ignored him, beginning to slide into the driver’s seat.
I held in a noise of surprise when I felt his hand on my waist. It caught me off guard, causing me to pause long enough for Niall to wrap his whole arm around me, pulling my body back to his.
“Samm,” he said again. I could feel his fingers against my side, holding me with just enough pressure to feel comforting. How had he switched so quickly from hurting to careful?
I avoided his eyes as if my life depended on it. My gaze focused on a spot on the driveway where a clump of grass had grown between the cracks in the cement. Niall said my name again, but I didn’t answer. My arms hung limply at my sides and the light breeze played with my hair.
Niall’s hand was suddenly underneath my chin. My jaw tightened as he gently tipped my head up to look at him. His blue eyes were the softest I’d ever seen them, his expression the most kind. He studied my face for a few seconds that felt like years. I became increasingly self-conscious of my actions—why had I pulled away? What was I so afraid of?
“Samm,” Niall said for the fourth time, and this time his face was only a few inches from mine. I stared up at him, begging him with my eyes to let me go so I wouldn’t feel so vulnerable. “What was that?”
My mouth trembled, the corners tipping down. “I—I don’t,” I stuttered, shutting my eyes tightly. What had that been? I’d had a complete and utter lapse in judgement; just a small moment of crazy. I was back now, and I remembered everything that had happened between Niall and I—all of the reasons we both had not to let what just happened happen.
“I don’t know,” I finally managed. My eyes were still squeezed shut, and I had no desire to see the look of disdain his expression probably held. Niall was lying about caring for me. There could be no way.
“Please don’t be afraid of me, Samm,” Niall said quietly. I was stunned when I caught a hint of hurt in his tone. “That’s the last thing I want right now, or ever. I won’t give you another reason to be afraid again.”
I wasn’t afraid of his touch or his words then. I was afraid of what he was promising and how true he would—could—be to his words. I was scared of exposing myself more than I had, of letting myself believe something that wasn’t true. Niall was an excellent liar, but the reasoning part of my brain told me that if he was truly repulsed by me, he would’ve stopped before kissing me.
“Please say something, Samm,” Niall spoke softly. His hand moved from my chin to my cheek, grazing his thumb across my cheek bone. It was only then that I realized I’d been silent for almost a minute.
I sucked in a long breath. “I want to believe you,” I said, hardly loud enough for myself to hear.
“Then believe me,” Niall breathed. “Please, believe me. No strings attached. I just want you.”
A sensation somewhere between butterflies and a punch in the gut hit me. I wanted to believe him so badly. I cared for Niall, this side of Niall. This was who I wanted, but I never knew how long he would last. It seemed every day like he was with me longer and longer, but letting my guard down would make the return of Niall’s other side that much more painful.
I had never been very good at words, with anyone. I answered him in the easiest way I could muster.
“Make me,” I told him.
My eyes drifted open. In a split second I saw something in his expression change. I became more aware of his fingers on my waist as they pressed against me tighter, pulling me toward him. Before I had time to blink, he lowered his face to mine and kissed me.
For the first time I could remember, I didn’t flinch at Niall’s touch—I sank into it. He pressed against me, his lips moving against mine much more urgent than before. The upper part of my back pressed against my car while Niall’s arm pulled my stomach to his. My hair moved with the breeze, tickling the back of my neck. But that wasn’t what was giving me chills.
I rested one of my hands on Niall’s chest, reaching for his cheek with the other. He took this as an invitation to deepen our kiss, pressing his lips to mine harder and more deliberate.
My insides were swirling with every kind of emotion there was. This was also the first time I’d ever felt comfortable with Niall after a conversation with raised voices. The closest I’d ever been to him, the most open I’d ever been, the most open he’d ever been… There were a lot of firsts.
Almost too soon Niall was pulling away, coaxing me to stand on my toes before breaking apart. I took my bottom lip between my teeth, searching his eyes for any sign of discontent. What had I done wrong? My heart pounded and my stomach twisted.
“Do you believe me?” Niall spoke softly. I felt his breath on my face, just inches away.
It didn’t even seem like a question anymore. Maybe my judgement was clouded, but I suddenly felt that Niall was worthy of my forgiveness. What he’d done had been horrible to live through, but in a short amount of time I’d seen him change for the better. I’d hardly seen his bad side in a week, and he’d told me he cared for me. This couldn’t be a sick joke—I knew Niall well enough that if he were truly ashamed to even look at me, this wouldn’t have happened. No, this wouldn’t have even have been a thought to glance across my mind. I believed Niall more than he probably expected.
My answer was pulling him down by his collar for another kiss. He smiled against my lips and I did the same, resisting the urge to throw my arms completely around him. I was happy, happier than I’d ever been in his presence. Niall had finally accepted me, and I had done the same for him.
Then I pulled back, breathless, and rested my head on his shoulder. I let my hands drop to wrap loosely around his torso and he kissed my temple. Niall draped his arms over my shoulders, rubbing my back and humming softly. It sounded nice.
Eventually we ended up sitting on his porch, talking until our throats were dry about things we’d never talked about with each other. We discussed television shows, books, movies, and people until the sun went down; after that, we stopped talking and just listened. The night air still held a bit of spring’s cold bite as the season transitioned into summer, but bugs still buzzed and did whatever they do at night.
It was so cliche and cheesy, all of it. I loved it, because I’d never shared anything like it with anyone.
My legs were resting across Niall’s lap and his arm was around my waist while I leaned my head in the crook of his shoulder. He was warm, enough to fight off the cold creeping up on us. I closed my eyes and breathed in the smell of his shirt.
“It’s getting late,” I mumbled mindlessly. “I don’t know if you are, but I’m going to class tomorrow.”
“Yeah,” Niall agreed. “I suppose I’ve got to, don’t I?”
He didn’t expect an answer, so I didn’t give him one. We sat for a few minutes before his phone buzzed in his pocket. I blinked, surprised. I didn’t know he had it with him. Niall dug around for it and pulled it out, then clicked off the notification, but not before I saw the time.
“It’s really late,” I stated, sitting up.
“It’s not that late,” Niall teased, pulling me back.
“It’s a quarter to midnight, Niall,” I answered incredulously. I moved my legs to stand, leaving him sitting. “I’ve got to go.”
He tugged at my hand. “Fine,” Niall said after a bit.
I smiled, glancing down at him. It was dark, but the light coming from his house through the window allowed me to see the blue of his eyes shining up at me. I squeezed his hand, then let it drop before walking to down to my car. Half way there I realized I’d left them in the car before Niall had pulled me out, and I blushed. My hand found the handle and I pulled the door open.
“Wait,” I heard Niall say, not three paces behind me.
I turned, just in time for his lips to meet mine. A noise of surprise escaped my throat and he chuckled, the vibration dancing from his mouth to mine. We held the kiss for several long seconds before I patted his chest and pulled away.
“Really, I’ve got to go.”
“Okay,” Niall said softly, the corners of his mouth tugging up. “Drive safe.”
He stole another short kiss before I slid into the driver’s seat. I started the car and put it into gear, then rolled down the window.
“Goodnight, Niall,” I said. I felt my cheeks begin to redden again.
“Goodnight,” he replied, stepping back for me to pull out. “And Samm?” he began again as I backed out into the street. “I’m glad you came today.”
I smiled, hoping he could see it. I rolled up the window and turned into the street, beginning the short ride home.
I am too.